Thursday, November 10, 2011

Epic - How Curriculum Works

This post is intended to give you a basic understanding of how the curriculum works.

First, each student has a $1,000 Learning Fund. If you have multiple students, you can combine those funds. We have three students enrolled in Epic, so our Learning Fund is $3,000.

You begin by choosing your base curriculum from a list of approved providers. These providers have been vetted to ensure that they all meet or exceed Oklahoma’s PASS and Common Core standards. Right now, they all exceed those standards. Your base curriculum is math, language arts, science, and social studies.

Next, you choose your secondary curriculum. You can choose foreign languages, art, supplemental math and language arts programs for kids who need extra help, Study Island, and so on. In both cases, if there is something you want that is not on the list, you can ask for it. They check to ensure that it meets the standards and see about adding it to the list.

This sounds like a dream, or one of those easy-to-dismiss claims, but it’s true. For instance, I suggested Mango Languages and Creativity Express for art, and another parent suggested Wilo 3-D curriculum and Teaching Textbooks for math. On the other hand, a lot of parents wanted K12 courses, but K12 declined to sell Epic their curriculum. (Presumably because they don’t want Epic to compete with their branded charter and private schools in Oklahoma. Fair enough.) So they do try hard to get you the curriculum that you want to use.

After you have chosen your core and secondary curriculum, and have satisfied state curriculum requirements, you move on to extracurricular courses and technical needs. We chose to order two laptops, kung-fu lessons for my older two kiddos, and gymnastics lessons for all three kiddos. Other families chose instrument lessons and e-readers, or choir dues and printers. There is wide latitude in regards to the allocation of these funds, and to the education of these students.

Oh, and any funds left in your Learning Fund roll over to the next year. Yes, we still have funds left! We may look at e-readers later this year, but I wouldn’t mind rolling it over. I thought about ordering some engineering workbooks for kids, but our days are very full with all of the activities that we have now, so I decided against it.

Now you’re ready to move on. Every student is assigned a general teacher who will monitor their work, and is your lifeline to the school. You choose the level of teacher involvement, from monthly telephone contact to weekly tutoring. We chose weekly tutoring for our kiddos, because I’m not the world’s greatest math teacher and math is really important. Any tutoring or teacher help is separate from your Learning Fund, and costs nothing.

Anyway, that’s how the curriculum works. :)

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